Cambridge in the 1920's

by Mark Nye
Issue No. 293 - September 1997

Starting in 1994 and continuing through 1997, the NCC Convention theme was a decade; that is 1920s, 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s. The convention souvenir booklet published each year contained a major article dealing with the subject decade. Starting this month and continuing, perhaps on an intermittent basis, those articles will be reprinted here in the Crystal Ball.

This brief history of the Cambridge Glass Co. during the 1920s is, for the most part, taken directly from the pages of two major trade journals, China, Glass and Lamps (CGL) and Crockery and Glass Journal (CGJ). Where clarifying comments were required, they were added by the editor and are enclosed in (). For illustrations of many items referenced in this article that date to 1925 or after, the reader is referred to the 1925-1929 Cambridge Glass Co. catalog as reprinted by the late Bill Smith and his wife, Phyllis, and available through Crystal Ball Article

"Billy McCartney and E.A. Mechling are gracefully handing the genial fin to all visitors at their commodious quarters in Parlors T and U. Hotel Henry, as sales ambassadors for the Cambridge Glass Co., Cambridge, O. Hardly necessary to say anything about this concern's show, for each year the lines have been classier than the previous year and the present is no exception to the rule. The Pittsburgh visit of any buyer is really not complete without giving the Cambridge display the once-over. And besides, Billy is quite a considerable card himself." CGL January 5, 1920 (The subject of this paragraph is the Cambridge exhibit at the 1920 Pittsburgh Trade Show.)
"Affairs are progressing as smoothly as could be expected at the plant of the Cambridge Glass Co. and the usual excellent grade of ware is being produced under the general supervision of W.C. McCartney, who has full charge during the absence of A.J. Bennett, who is spending a well-earned vacation in the mountains with his family. The company is fortunately situated, owning its own coal mines so the fuel problem has been escaped by the management. A brisk demand for ware is noted and shipments have been made on time, as nearly as is possible to do so in these strenuous days." CGL September 1922
"With his usual grace and aplomb, W.C. McCartney, secretary and sales manager of the Cambridge Glass Co., presides over the extensive display of high class wares exhibited in Parlors T and U at the Hotel Henry. His has a capable corps of assistants in Edward A. Mechling, John Nixon, A.G. Menzies and W.R. Amidon. Many new etchings are shown on pressed and blown blanks and stemware. These include Dresden, a border etching with pendants forming panels and baskets, the Adams, a neat effect in border and panels, and two new etchings on stemware, jugs, etc. The Wedgewood, last year's popular etching, still continues to maintain its excellent pace. Three striking new floral cuttings are also on display and are attracting special attention. The new Chelsea pressed line occupies a prominent place in the display, and it is produced both plain and cut. In addition there are numerous other items that will attract the fancy of the discriminating buyer. A large sign across the entrance to the company's quarters, the only one of its kind at the show, is a striking reminder to visiting buyers. And inside there's the cheery smile, the warm hand clasp and the scintillating display of ware." CGL January 1921. (The subject of the preceding was the Cambridge exhibit at the 1921 Pittsburgh show.)
"A new shade of colored glassware, which has been the cause of much favorable comment is the 'Azurite' introduced for the first time Dragon vase by the Cambridge Glass Co. in room 728 at the Fort Pitt. It is a full-body blue not unlike Harding Blue. Another new line from this factory is called the "Ebony." It is very black and represents an achievement in this class of glassware. Both new colors come in complete tableware lines, including vases, candlesticks, bowls, candy jars, compotes and cheese and cracker plates. In addition to the plain 'Azurite' the ware is being offered in two shades of double lustre, with four patterns in gold encrustation and in combination with two contrasting colors used for lines and reliefs. The gold encrustation patterns on 'Azurite' bodies are most attractive. In fact, the entire line is beautifully conceived and executed. An especially appealing decoration is that of black peacocks and dragons on the blue body. The peacocks and dragons also are shown in a contrasting shade of green, which contrary to what might be expected, does not clash with the blue. On the gold-encrusted 'Azurite' ware, the company has placed a gold label bearing the wording 'Cambridge Art Glass, Ohio, U.S.A.' This factory also is showing iced tea and lemonade sets in'Murano Crystal.' This ware is acidtinted and seems to send out coolness and should prove especially interesting in warm weather. There are several interesting candlesticks in this new ware, as well as a round shaped candy box. A new decoration of stemware is hand painted enamel border in blue with a pink flower and green leaf. A gold encrustation border is another new decoration of stemware. The Cambridge lines will be shown in Room 339 at the Hotel Morrison, Chicago next month." CGL January 23, 1922. (This was a commentary on the 1922 Pittsburgh Show Cambridge display.)

It was in a full page Cambridge advertisement, published December 18, 1922, that the famous "C in a triangle" Cambridge trademark first appeared in print.